People have been eating pumpkins for thousands of years. No doubt, this highly nutritional and healthy food helped the human race not only survive, but thrive for uncounted centuries. It’s fair to say that it’s a “super food.” Pumpkin flesh is so packed with vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates, proteins and key nutrients that a person could survive on it alone for months or even years without eating anything else. And pumpkin health benefits don’t stop there!
Pumpkin Health Benefits
Packed With Minerals
A single serving also packs a potassium wallop with 564 mg, or 16% of your daily need. It has almost 37 mg of calcium, 22 mg of magnesium, 73.5 mg of phosphorus. In addition to 1.4 mg of iron, it delivers smaller amounts of zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
Finally, the fruit is a decent source of protein. A serving has 1.8 grams of protein, or about 4% of your daily need.
Great Weight Loss Aid
If you’re trying to lose weight, eating high fiber squash every day will bolster your effort. That’s because it’s a great source of fiber. It makes you feel full while consuming only small amounts of calories. One cup of pumpkin, for example, has just 49 calories.
Eating a high-fiber, low-calories diet is a proven method to shed pounds, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Good fats, Not Bad Fats
Pumpkins are virtually free of fats that can clog our arteries or cause weight gain. But they do contain the “good fats,” such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. A single serving has just a tiny 0.1 grams of saturated fat. Add to this other pumpkin health benefits, and you’ve got the perfect ingredient for one delicious diet food.
It’s likely that eating a lot of pumpkin may ward off cancer to a certain degree. That’s because like sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots, pumpkin flesh contains large amounts of beta-carotene, and antioxidant associated with cancer prevention, says the National Cancer Institute. Though more researched is needed, it seems pumpkin health benefits may prove to be quite miraculous.
Why It’s Excellent For Skin
The carotenoids in this plant contain wrinkle-fighting pigments that neutralize free radicals in the skin which cause aging. Also, its vitamins C, E, and A are key elements of keeping skin healthy and vibrant, says dermatologist Kenneth Beer, a Fellow with the American Academy of Dermatology.
Mood Lifter and Sleep Aid
Studies have shown that people given controlled amounts of toasted seeds to eat over a period of months produced a remarkable lifting of mood.
A study published the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2007 found that de-oiled seeds provided a clinical effect similar to pharmaceutical-grade tryptophan. Also, research reported in the Nutritional Neuroscience journal found that the seeds were effective in reducing awake time during the night, making them a safe, gentle and natural sleep aid.
The seeds may even help with arthritis. A 1995 study published in the Pharmacological Research journal showed that seed oil compared favorably to the common arthritis drug Indomethacin, but without the unwanted side effect of liver damage.
For older men, the common problem of benign prostate growth (BPH) may be inhibited because the seeds counter testosterone that causes prostate growth.
The seeds of this marvelous giant fruit remain a central area of study for health and nutritional scientists, who are only beginning to explore the range of exciting possibilities offered by this super food.
The Mighty Seed
Let’s not forget one of the most powerful parts of the pumpkin – the seeds!
The seeds are loaded with the amino acid tryptophan. This substance is key in the production of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, a vital molecule that controls moods.
Pumpkin Nutritional Value
One serving of cooked pumpkin delivers an amazing 245% of the daily value of Vitamin A, which is why eating this food is a superior way to protect our eyesight. Other key vitamins include:
• Vitamin C – 19% DV (Daily Value)
• Vitamin E – 10%
• Riboflavin – 11%
• Thiamin – 5%
• Niacin – 5%
• Vitamin K – 2%
• Vitamin B – 5%
• Folate – 6%
• Pantothenic Acid – 5%
When most people think about pumpkin, they generally have two things in mind – carving them for Halloween or making pie. But there are at least a dozen excellent uses and application for this fruit. In this list we will feature some of the lesser known pumpkin uses.
Pumpkin Body Scrub
The pulp can be made into a body-scrubbing exfoliant which is applied directly to the skin. It has hydrating properties. Some people puree the pulp and mix it with coconut oil to make an superb body moisturizer. Still another external application is to mix pureed pulp with a vegan-based wax to create lip balm. It will not only protect your lips from wind and sun, but feed nutrients into the surface of your lips.
Versatile Recipe Possibilities
Beyond good old pumpkin pie, the flesh of this fruit also makes excellent cakes. You can add in chocolate and nuts, to make a more elaborate and sophisticated dessert. It’s also becoming a popular base for smoothies. Blender applications are only limited by your imagination.
Other recipes creations include biscuits, corn bread, soups, cookies and even stuffing for a turkey, duck or roast chicken
DIY Air Freshener
One of the most innovative application is to make a nifty air freshener. Select a smaller unit, cut cut out the top, hollow it out and rub the interior with a selection of spices or essential oils. Then light a beeswax tea candle at the bottom.
An entire book could be written on the benefits of pumpkin as food. We’ve only touched on the highlights here.
It’s time to start thinking of pumpkins as more than a mere Halloween prop to be carved, but as a remarkable source of nutrition that can help us lead a healthier lifestyle. And let us know in the comments how you take advantage of pumpkin health benefits!